History of War

IN THE 20TH CENTURY

 

The Cold War: Overview

Cold War Statistics

Number of CIA employees involved in covert operations in 1949: 302

Number of CIA employees involved in covert operations in 1952: 2,812, plus another 3,142 overseas "contract personnel"

Number of warheads in the American nuclear arsenal in 1963:
29,049

Average number of US troops engaged at any time: 2.6 million

Average number of Soviet troops engaged at any time: 4 million

US military spending in 1985: $1 trillion

Poltical Context

The alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union during World War II was always one of convenience and even during the war, they treated it more like a competition than an alliance, refusing to share critical strategic information with the other for fear of being betrayed.  Even before the war ended, it was clear that the United States and the Soviet Union were going to emerge as the only remaining superpowers in the world, since the other European nations had suffered too many casualties and too much damage to their infrastructure. 

At the Yalta Conference, towards the end of World War II, in exchange for signing onto Roosevelt’s UN Security Council, Stalin negotiated a “democratic” Soviet occupation of Poland, which he immediately took autocratic control over following World War II.   As soon as the war ended, the Soviets were already set on expanding their empire, and with their troops were already in place across Eastern Europe because of the war, this was not an overly difficult task.  Weary of this, the United States signed the NATO agreement, with its Western European allies, and armed for yet another global conflict, only this time preparing for nuclear war.

Yalta ConferenceOver the next 54 years, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in multiple proxy wars against each other and tried to prop up various puppet governments to establish spheres of influence in as many parts of the world as possible.  Recognizing that full-scale nuclear war would essentially destroy both countries, in what became known as mutually assured destruction (MAD), the two superpowers fought each other in other ways, through regional military conflicts, such as the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Soviet War in Afghanistan, as well as espionage operations, a national space race, and ideological warfare through the use of propaganda.

 

 

Nations Involved

US Flag

 

 

Russian Flag  

United States

 

Soviet Union

 

 

Key Players

American Leaders:

Harry Truman JFK LBJ reagan
Harry S. Truman John F. Kennedy Lydon B. Johnson Ronald Reagon
American President
(1945-1953)
American President
(1961-1963)
American President
(1963-1969)
American President
(1981-1989)

 

Soviet Leaders:

Stalin Nikita Khrushchev Leonid Brezhnev Mikhail Gorbachev
Joseph Stalin Nikita Khrushchev Leonid Brezhnev Mikhail Gorbachev
Premier of the Soviet Union (1922-1952) Premier of the Soviet Union (1953-1964) Premier of the Soviet Union (1964-1982) Premier of the Soviet Union (1990-1991)